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Lotte de Jong is a spatial designer for well-known brands and organizations. She allows herself to design her own work once a year. This time she is exploring what using alcohol and pills do to you. As well as questioning ingrained habits. “‘How’s your hangover? ‘ – is still the number one question after a great party.”

“I have set myself the target of making room for my own independent work alongside my assignments,” Lotte de Jong explains. “Although there are always a hundred other, more important things to do, of course. Taking part in DDW turns out to be a great incentive. As soon as the registration has been completed, I know that I have got to get to work.”

The Dutch Design Week is not really an end in itself. I see it as the starting point for a lengthier project. For instance, my work from the previous time will be presented at the Architecture Biennale in Venice next year.

Less sleep

The aim this year is to trigger something as well. “The use of drugs and alcohol is seen as completely normal. Yet in the Netherlands, about two million people are addicted or are abusing a substance. That’s almost one in eight people. This is why I want to raise awareness on the daily consequences of these substances. Not by pointing a finger at anyone. But by showing you in an interactive and sensory way precisely what using these substances does to you.”

Lotte was wondering what alcohol consumption did to her personally and decided not to drink for a while. This yielded two insights. One was about her own well-being. She felt fitter and lighter and able to taste food better. The most significant revelation was discovering that she could get by with less sleep. Another one was the reactions from her environment. “Have a glass of wine.” Followed by: “You’re no fun!” when she declined. Gaining awareness that ‘congenial’ alcohol consumption is often the norm: “The first question you get the morning after a party is: ‘How’s your hangover?'”

Wine or no wine

“The contrast surprises me,” says Lotte. “Between how people talk about ‘normal’ alcohol consumption and how they view someone who is really addicted. The latter is your own fault, they look down on that. But the culture of a glass of wine in the pub or a pill at a festival is completely normal. It’s almost a bit odd if you don’t join in.”

In her day-to-day life, Lotte runs STUDIO &lotte ,a design agency for spatial marketing. ‘Senses’ is a word that comes up a few times during the conversation. “I believe that an exhibition or event will only stay with you if your senses are stimulated.” Soon at DDW, when she’ll be standing there inside the TQ building at Strijp-T, she wants people to be able to see, hear, smell, taste and touch. As a visitor you will be able to experience via all your senses what the difference is between having a glass of wine and not having one.”

Should these stimulants be gotten rid of? “It is not my intention to say what is good or bad. I am interested in making people aware of what a little bit of alcohol does to you. I am hoping for wonderful stories and conversations. Mind you, I do expect some resistance. Most visitors will probably say that this doesn’t apply to them. Hence the subtitle,” Lotte laughs: “I can hear you thinking ‘this exhibition is not about me …'”

Location: TQ 4, Strijp-T

The Dutch Design Week is the largest design festival in Northern Europe. Each year, we pick out ten designers from a huge selection that we consider to be this year’s Hidden Gems. You can read all about their stories there.

This series was created in collaboration with Dutch Design Daily and curator Katja Lucas from DDW. Would you like to visit the DDW hidden gems yourself? Every day, Brandstore Eindhoven/VVV is organizing a bicycle tour along the selected designers. More info can be found here.